HDPE in a thickness planer?

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Forum topic by JeffP posted 03-10-2015 11:33 PM 2305 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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573 posts in 1360 days

03-10-2015 11:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: planer

Hi all, not long ago I purchased a “hunk” of HDPE. I bought it with the intent of making some sacrificial (and non-conductive) fences for my full-boat (aluminum) Incra fence system on my Saw Stop saw.

Just now, it occurred to me that I could use some of the extra to make zero clearance inserts for the saw.

In order to do that I, would need to “re-saw” an appropriate sized piece of this 1” thick HDPE down close to the right thickness for an insert.

I’m thinking I would then want to get it just right (thickness) using my Dewalt thickness planer.

Before I total my brand new planer in what might be a fools errand, I wanted to ask around and see if this was a ridiculous thing to do.

Can you plane HDPE in a thickness planer without ruining either the work piece or the planer?

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

7 replies so far

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3724 days

#1 posted 03-10-2015 11:35 PM

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View firefighterontheside's profile


17968 posts in 1825 days

#2 posted 03-10-2015 11:59 PM

You don’t necessarily have to plane it all the way down if you make a rabbet around it at the router table. That way it will stay more stiff in the middle.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1360 days

#3 posted 03-11-2015 12:39 AM

The place I bought this from is a cabinet-making shop that does a good job of getting rid of their left-overs and extra stuff instead of letting it pile up in a corner.

I don’t have a lot of confidence that the people who are in charge of that part of the business are well connected with the people who buy stuff and use it in the cabinetmaking shop. Hence, I have to say that I’m not absolutely certain this stuff is truly HDPE.

How can I tell HDPE apart from UHMW? Maybe some other kind of really hard heavy white plastic? Does it matter?

The stuff I have is very white. It also seems harder to me that the stuff that a Walmart cutting board is made of. It also seems very dense and heavy. I read about both at wikipedia, but they seem to think the two are more or less the same thing.

Does the hardest of kind of plastic work better or worse in a planer? The upshot of the other thread above seemed to be that nobody had a horror story of “it ruined my planer – don’t do it”. Seems some folks wound up with a bit of a mess in their DC.

I have enough of it that I’m not worried about experimenting in the sense of winding up with an unusable blob of plastic that I can hang on my wall as a reminder of an hour of interesting fun and learning. My only concern is breaking my planer.

As long as I do really shallow cuts, any danger? Any horror stories out there?

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View TheFridge's profile


9251 posts in 1455 days

#4 posted 03-11-2015 01:06 AM

I jointed some. So it should plane fine. used hand planes on it too. I wouldn’t worry a bit.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View jumbojack's profile


1674 posts in 2593 days

#5 posted 03-11-2015 02:27 AM

I have jointed, planed, resawed, table sawed this stuff many times. Take VERY light passes as the material comes off very bulky. It clogged my planer and jointer in seconds. It cuts nice though with a smooth finish. Don’t be skeered it will not harm your tools.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 1498 days

#6 posted 03-11-2015 03:35 AM

Another material it may be is Delrin. It’s a pretty hard and bright white material. Machines well also.
Personally, I don’t know if I would plane any of them or not.
Not saying you can or can’t, I just never have.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View joey502's profile


525 posts in 1487 days

#7 posted 03-11-2015 07:11 AM

I have run UHMW through my TS, planer and over my jointer with no problem. It does not melt into a blob like you are thinking. The melting temp is about 130 degrees. It will not get anywhere near that running through your planer.

Cut it with band saw and table saw to get a feel for how it machines.

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